Bakery Vietnamese

Saigon Rolls – St Leonards NSW Restaurant Review

Saigon Rolls is a small Vietnamese restaurant in St Leonards serving a variety of banh mi, rice paper rolls, and pho. I dropped in on a chilly May morning for a couple of banh mi, eager to fill myself up before a day of minimally catered meetings.

This crackling pork roll ($8) was quite good. Lots of fresh-feeling salads, sufficient meat, at a reasonable price. Not the best I’ve had in my entire life, but did its job well.

The cold meat pork roll with double meat ($9) was really only fine. Again filled with a good amount of salad, I felt that the extra meat was not adequately balanced by extra pate or butter. Maybe it’s my own fault for not asking for double pate as well as double meat, but I find that in most places this balance is made automatically.

Saigon Rolls St Leonards
Kiosk 5/436 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 9410 0988


Diem Hen – Canley Heights NSW Restaurant Review

Anyone who’s ever had to work a roster that transitions directly from days to nights knows that the 24-hour period between your last day and your first night is a difficult time to manage. This strange twilight zone, where you’re exhausted from work but trying your hardest to stay awake so that you can get restful sleep in the daytime is probably a contributor to many peoples’ metabolic disorders, including my own.

On occasion I try to optimise my use of this 24-hour period off work by fitting in a meal after I finish work at 9PM. Diem Hen is one of those restaurants a mere 15 minutes from my work that opens until 12 midnight every night of the week, providing a good and valuable service for night owls and shift workers.

Whilst I’m a big fan of pho, I do still try my best to try new and exciting Vietnamese foods like the Bò Né Đặc Biệt (Vietnamese Steak & Egg – $15). My friend CV often gets a text message with a photo of my meal and accompanied by a “how do I eat this?”, and it was on her advice that I dipped the warm, crusty bread into the French oniony sauce and began my journey. I will review each component of this dish separately.

To begin, I think the bread was particularly good. It was freshly toasted, warm and crusty. This is quite special, especially given that Diem Hen is a restaurant, not a bakery. The bread within the crust was a little bit denser than I find in most Vietnamese bakery baguettes, though perhaps this was to improve its ability to soak up the Bo Ne sauces.

The egg in the Bo Ne was very runny and soft, and mixed with the sauce was a much more pleasant eating experience than any other shakshuka (essentially another egg in sauce in cast iron dish) I’ve ever had. Great with the bread. I later overheard some other guys asking for extra eggs for a different dish, and immediately regretted not asking for some extra eggs myself.

The beef was of the Bo Ne was a sliced steak cooked medium and while its cut was a mystery the meat was really quite tender. The Xiu Mai had a good light taste and offered a pleasant interplay of different internal textures. The small sausage had supermarket kransky energy, but not all things can be perfect. All in all this was a good dish, though a little bit on the salty side for all you hypertensives out there.

The Cánh Gà Rang Mắm Nhĩ (Fried Chicken Wings with Special Fish Sauce – $12) was chosen as a bit of a safe bet in the setting of some other unknowns, but ultimately was a bit of a let down. My main issues with them was that they were quite dry and non-crispy, even though they were fried. They didn’t have a strong taste either, despite special fish sauce being advertised as a main component of the dish. The pictured salad I’m actually not sure if it is part of the wing dish or part of the Bò Né. They served the wings with the bread and the Bò Né with the salad, but I suspect that it was meant to be the other way around. Regardless, the salad was actually pretty tangy and tasty.

Will I come back? Most definitely

Diem Hen
205-207 Canley Vale Rd, Canley Heights NSW 2166
(02) 9728 4430


Lush Bowl ‘n’ Roll – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Some say that Lush (Bowl ‘n’ Roll, nee Food Bar) is dressed as a restaurant but is really just a cafe, while in my opinion they are the complete opposite. Despite its tiny physical footprint and decor befitting a cafe, its extended opening hours and extensive menu of actual food betray its true nature.

This beast of a dish is the Bun Dau Mam Tom & Sea Food Version ($16.90). The intricacies of proportion are difficult to capture without something standardised like a banana for scale, but believe me when I tell you that this was not the amount of food I was expecting to get for $16.90. This plate had a huge variety of ingredients to be eaten individually as one likes or wrapped up in lettuce leaves, as confirmed with my Vietnamese social work friend. The flavour centre of the dish was really the fermented shrimp paste sauce, which was simply something I’ve never experienced before. This brown, almost purple sauce was so deep and rich in flavour, with such a strong shrimpiness, that quite literally only a tiny smattering was required to flavour each mouthful. I’m glad I chose to order this at a time when I was dining alone, as I’m sure that my girlfriend, seafood-averse as she is, would’ve hated this. The strong umami and seafood flavours in this tiny dish of sauce reminded me of a particular Food War based anime where the protagonist would make very fishy things with squids much to the chagrin of his colleagues.

Other elements of note in this dish were the soft and light rice noodle, which flavoured with a light touch of the sauce was very easy eating. The fried tofu was superb, somehow done in a way where it was warm all the way through while remaining soft, with the thinnest imaginable fried outer layer that didn’t negatively affect the soft texture at all. The pork hock was similary soft, warm and delicious. The fish cake and prawns were as imagined, and adding up all of these different proteins you can see that this is actually quite a generous serving. This is really something to try.

Like an absolute fool I thought that I would be safe in ordering this beef roll ($7.50) in addition to the gigantic bun dau mam tom discussed above. Luckily for me, the staff at Lush Food Bar knew me better than I knew myself, and straight up served this banh mi to me fully wrapped up and in a biodegradable plastic bag to take home. My normal go-to banh mi is either the classic cold cut pork or crackling roast pork, and this may very well be the first or second beef roll I’ve ever had. The sheer quality of it, even having survived a trip from Strathfield to the nearest quaternary hospital, a surveillance COVID swab, an hour of incidental teaching, and then a trip home was extra-ordinary. Unlike some rolls this one had the perfect degree of moistness, owing from the mixing of juices from the beef (something you don’t get with pork based rolls), the generous serving of Vietnamese mayonnaise, and pate. Really great.

I also hope you enjoy this photo, which was taken on my balcony after my realisation that most people probably don’t enjoy seeing the bitten, half-eaten rolls that I’ve been posting. I had to lock the cats away so that I could access the balcony safely, so it was really quite an effort.


Lush Bowl ‘n’ Roll (ex- Lush Food Bar)
11/23 The Boulevarde, Strathfield Plaza, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9746 9905


My Hao – Winston Hills NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t generally have much occasion to visit Winston Hills, but having had Lee Chef’s (amazing) pho no less than six times in the four months that we were locked down it was time to try something new.

The Beef Pho (Large – $15.50) was looking weak both visually and on paper, but turned out surprisingly good. Featuring only beef brisket, rare beef, and beef balls, My Hao’s only beef pho offering leaves out the tendon and tripe that round out a full featured Phở Đặc Biệt. The soup is clear and sweeter than I’m generally what I’m used to, and the “rare beef” is actually cooked almost all the way through by the time the bowl reaches the table. Despite theses subjective and objective shortcomings, I enjoyed this bowl a surprising amount. I think the strength of this bowl of pho really comes down to My Hao’s great use of brisket, which is fatty and moist, but doesn’t go a nanometre past the sweet spot into being too fatty. Not all bowls of pho need to be homogenous, and all things considered the only thing I would change about this pho would be to be a bit more generous with the basil.

This was not the best Pork Roll ($6.50) I’ve ever reviewed on this blog, but it probably looks the best. I can’t believe it’s taken me over 300 reviews (these get queued for ages and the posting order gets switched up, so while this meal was eaten in October 2021 the review could be posted any time into the future – or past? spooky) to realise that people would probably prefer to see a nicely cut cross-section of a sandwich than my haphazard interpretation of such made with my teeth and mouth. I recently found an anaesthetic colleague’s croissant-based Instagram, and the beauty of cut croissants and the lack of wedge-shaped teeth marks in her photos struck me. My Hao expertly served this less-than-expert banh mi cut into halves and on a plate, but I don’t really know how I can emulate this in my usual practice, unless I carry a knife with me at all times. It turns out that’s exactly what she does. I can’t wait to explain this to the cops.

Back to the actual pork roll, I felt that it lost points for being too salty and too sweet and too wet. The bread also happened to be a bit too crusty and a bit too hard, and the restaurant being a full featured restaurant rather than a bakery I wonder if their baguettes are made on site or elsewhere. I was shocked and offended when the only other diners in the restaurant ordered banh mis without pate, but looking at the amount of pate I got in mine I’m not sure it would’ve made much of a difference.

I think that if I’m after the kind of pho that I know I like whilst living in the Parramatta area, Lee Chef still has my patronage I think that if I want to subject myself to some sweeter pho that is outside of my comfort zone I’d continue to explore the rest of Sydney rather than come back to My Hao. I don’t hate them. It just is what it is.

My Hao
1E Caroline Chisholm Dr, Winston Hills NSW 2153
(02) 9688 7631


Mylan – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

I love a good pho, and within Wollongong’s surprising density of Vietnamese restaurants Mylan is said to be one of the best.

I took myself out for lunch for a Beef Special Pho ($17). The restaurant was sparsely populated and diners were well distanced from one another, likely owing to the only very recent reopening of NSW’s restaurants. Service was very fast, with the bowl delivered in well under five minutes.

$17 at Mylan buys you an extremely large bowl of pho, with a healthy mixture of rare beef, brisket, beef balls, and various kinds of tripe. The rare meat was tender, and the brisket was not too fatty. Unfortunately the beef balls did not taste as good or as complex as some other beef balls that I’ve had.

The soup came extra hot, which was great as it maintained its warmth throughout the course of the meal, despite having to transfer much of its heat to the bean sprouts and Thai basil that I added in. The broth itself is a bit lighter in taste than what I usually prefer, but this was made up for by the sate chilli sauce. I do wish that more bean sprouts would have been given for such a large bowl of noodles, but I suspect I was just too shy to ask.

Overall a pretty decent bowl.

193 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500
(02) 4228 1588